In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book of Mormon and Hopi ceremonial sash both use the Hebraism Chiasmus as proof of antiquity.

In the late 1960s, a young Latter-day Saint discovered that an ancient form of Middle Eastern poetry was found throughout the Book of Mormon, suggestive of its ancient Semitic origins. This poetical form, chiasmus, a type of inverted parallelism, reaches highly artistic heights in the Book of Mormon and is difficult to ascribe to chance. Yet the information available to Joseph Smith when the Book of Mormon was translated provided nothing to guide him in crafting such structures. Could this be part of a growing body of evidence for ancient Semitic origins for the text?

Chiasmus is a form of parallelism used as a poetical structure in some ancient writings from the Middle East and Greece. The word chiasmus derives from the Greek letter chi (X) which symbolizes the top-to-bottom mirror image reflection achieved by elements of text. An example of a very simple chiasmus is found in Psalms 124:7:

We have escaped as a bird
From the snare of the fowlers
-The snare is broken
-And we have escaped.
for a more complex chiasmus example we will look in the Book of Mormon,

Mosiah 3:18,19:(Men will drink damnation to their souls unless)
(a) They HUMBLE themselves
--- (b) and become as little CHILDREN
------(c) believing that salvation is in the ATONING BLOOD OF CHRIST;
--------(d) for the NATURAL MAN
----------(e) is an enemy of GOD
------------(f) and HAS BEEN from the fall of Adam
------------(f') and WILL BE forever and ever
----------(e') unless he yieldeth to the HOLY SPIRIT
--------(d') and putteth off the NATURAL MAN
------(c') and becometh a saint through the ATONEMENT OF CHRIST
---(b') and becometh as a CHILD
(a') submissive, meek and HUMBLE.
These same chiastic structures merged with deep symbolism can be found on the Hopi ceremonial sash.

The ceremonial sash is tied to the right and joins the design in the ceremonial kilt, also worn to the right. The image on the sash is a visual chiasmus. Some have said that the design on the ceremonial sash is a face, similar to the Broadace Katcina mask. The pair of red lozenges (diamond or rhombus shapes)are said to be two eyes, and the zig-zag design in the band at the outer edges are said to be teeth, lions teeth. When looked upon in this sense it does appear to resemble a face, even upside down. And this face is indeed a mask, hiding the sacred motifs behind it, which are recognized as readily as a familiar face by only the initiated. What unmasks the facade and reveals the meaning within the design of the sash are the parallel white bars in the black lines between the eyes and teeth.

Without going into to much detail the top portion of the zig-zag represents the stars in the firmament with the black spacious universe behind the next line is the the black line with pairs of bars representing the pairs of witnesses with passwords to he heavens as well as a duel symbol for "the word" for the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword (Rev. 2:12).
As stated earlier in the kilt worn by the Hopi Snake Priest the two white bars also represent the two or more witnesses or books combined to instill all truth. The red lozenges with white triangles represent those whose garments have been made white through the blood of the Lamb. The hook and the crook symbols in short represent the spirit of revelation and the spirit of prophecy as the crook brings things out of heaven, such as the voice of angelic revelation, while the hook brings things out of the earth, such as the voice of prophetic writings. As the visual pattern repeats itself in reverse order the meanings duel in nature mean virtually the same although some may be used as a voice of warning where as the zig-zag at the bottom also represents the weaping and whaling and gnashing of teeth brought upon by those banished to outter darkness. All of this is followed by the fringe and ribbons at the bottom of the sash. The wearing of the fringe can be traced to the American Indians' forefathers, the Ancient Israelites. The purpose of the fringe is explained in the Bible,

37 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
41 I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.

Since the Hopis are the Mother Nation, theirs is not a "ribbon of blue" but a ribbon of red, the same color spoken of in an earlier post of the snake dancers feathers in their hair to represent the color of the seed of Jacob, where as the color blue represents the color of the Israelite nation.
As can be seen in the Chiasmus whether in the form of poetry or Hebrew word or phrase formation or Hopi visual testament it serves the purpose of stating and restating in reverse order, so as to reaffirm the truth or point of the chiasm. It is interesting that these are also common in Mayan text pre 1580. These stand as witnesses to both the ties between the Hopi whose ancestors trace back to the Mayans and those people of whom we read about in the Book of Mormon, (whom many look upon as one and the same) as well as the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
One last point that I found rather interesting while listening to Hugh Nibley's "Temples Everywhere" talk is that some of his colleagues from Israel one in particular Professor Shinar from Hebrew University was surprised to find that the Hopi called their sashes or prayer shalls the same thing they do in Jerusalem, a "Sheish"(spelling?).

1 comment:

  1. The phrase at the end of this post, "It is interesting that these are also common in Mayan text pre 1580" refers to the Popul Vu which also has multiple chiasmus (a hebriac writing style)